If you’re a blogger with a substantial email list that you want to grow, with readers whose behaviors you want to track, ConvertKit could be the right email marketing program for you.
ConvertKit isn’t for everyone, so it hasn’t earned The Blog 2.0 Seal of Approval. But if it’s right for you, like it is for me, then it’s the only email service provider that will do. Read on to learn more!
Most online posts you’ll find about ConvertKit are unqualified glowing reviews. You’ll LOVE it. It’s the BEST! We’ll never EVER go back to MailChimp/MailerLite/Mad Mimi/AWeber. Beware reviews like that. They’re often written by bloggers who are trying to sell you on their current email marketing program so they can earn an affiliate fee.
Like most reviews on Blog 2.0, we include an affiliate link, but we created this site on a promise of transparency and honesty. We disclose the affiliate percentage (here, it’s currently 30% per month paid if someone signs up using our affiliate link), and tell you everything we think is important about the tool—the good and the bad.
The Bottom Line
ConvertKit is expensive. Unlike most email marketing plans out there, ConvertKit doesn’t have a free plan. For that reason, I never recommend it to beginning bloggers and/or bloggers without an active email list. But, it’s a really robust program that incorporates a lot of the features I’d be looking for from LeadPages (which itself is quite pricey) and is the only email marketing program I’ve tried that has “tagging,” which allows you to track the particular behavior of any subscriber.
Why do you need an Email Service Provider?
When I first started out blogging in 2009 (yes, really!), the only readers who subscribed to my blog were computer savvy readers who knew how to sign up for my RSS (or Rich Site Survey). I didn’t promote it, and I didn’t know why anyone would. I wanted readers to visit my website, not read my posts in an email. Right?
It took me way, way too many years to realize the power of email. Today, I have a robust email list through my main blog, Gluten Free on a Shoestring, of approximately 110,000 email addresses. It’s my pride and joy! My email subscribers get way, way more love than anyone else. If you write to me through the contact form on my blog, you’ll hear from my assistant—when she’s able to respond, which is not every day. If you respond to one of my emails, you’ll hear back from me directly, and probably within a day or so. Not bad, right?
If you’re going to send an email to more than a few people, you have to send that email through an Email Service Provider, or ESP. Otherwise, your emails will overwhelmingly be marked as spam, and your recipients will never see them. Most ESPs have free entry-level plans (ConvertKit is not one of them, I’m sorry to say).
When I first used an ESP, it was MadMimi. I was obsessed with doing what’s called an RSS Scrape email, which is triggered automatically whenever you post something new on your blog. An excerpt (or the whole post, if that’s how you have it set) goes out to your list. Done. But it’s not personal, it tends to have lower deliverability rates, and it’s just a wasted opportunity.
When I switched to MailChimp because I needed a more robust email marketing tool, I started writing unique text whenever I sent a new blog post notification to my list.
Now that I use ConvertKit, every single email (other than those in a set sequence, which are very few) I send to my list, or to a portion of my list, is written individually. Sometimes I copy and paste a bit of the blog post into the email, but it’s never just a dump of the post. My email list is way too valuable for that.
And since emails get buried in readers’ inboxes or are read and then deleted, my emails aren’t written in an “evergreen” fashion. So if I sent you an email in April, it’s going to reference spring, and maybe Easter. On my website, you might visit that post in the winter, so I try to keep the language universal, or “evergreen.”
Audience Segmentation is ConvertKit’s Best Feature 💫
Whenever a subscriber on my email list takes any action like opening an email or clicking on a link or indicates an interest I can instruct ConvertKit to “tag” them as having taken that action or expressed that interest. The tag follows that subscriber as they travel through any interaction they have with my content through ConvertKit. If you are importing a list of subscribers from another email service provider who have all already taken a certain action, you can import that list into the tag so those subscribers maintain that identification. “Link triggers” can also be set to tag a subscriber when they click a link.
Tags, as attached to particular subscribers, themselves are then organized into segments or specific portions of your subscriber list. When you communicate with your subscribers, you can set parameters for the segment with which you’d like to communicate based upon the presence, or absence, of certain criteria (or tags).
When you draft a new “broadcast” (or single email to a portion of your subscriber list), ConvertKit will prompt you to create the “segment” to which you’d like to send the email. You can select subscribers that match certain criteria and not others, certain criteria in addition to others, or all of your subscribers. It’s not necessarily intuitive, but it’s easy to follow once you begin working with the software.
This ability to pinpoint particular subscribers who have taken certain actions and expressed particular interests, or exclude certain subscribers that have not expressed an interest or have expressed an aversion to something is extremely valuable. It’s the main reason that I can’t imagine switching from ConvertKit to another service. No other service I know of is as robust in this area.
This features overview from Josep at Email Tool Tester is super helpful. Since he reviews tons of email tools, I feel comfortable that his review is honest.
ConvertKit falls short when it comes to email template choices. If you want a lovely branded template, you’re going to have to know some HTML since the editor is not very intuitive or explicit.
I have super basic coding knowledge (really just enough to make me really annoying to web developers), and I had my ConvertKit template designed for me. But if I want to duplicate a design feature from one of my emails into another, I can’t always figure out how to do it.
On the bright side, if you’re switching from another email marketing program and you already have a template in that program that you’d like to transfer to ConvertKit, their “concierge migration service” can do that for you.
Migrating Your List From Somewhere Else
ConvertKit’s Concierge Migration Service brings over your whole list, with all of its current features including a design template, for free as long as your plan is at least $99/month. This is key, since every email service provider seems to be dedicated to making us a little crazier every day by calling each feature something slightly different. In MailChimp, for example, a single email to your list is called a Campaign. In ConvertKit, it’s called a Broadcast.
By the way, if your list is small and your monthly plan doesn’t cost $99 a month thereby qualifying for the free migration service, you can hire one of their recommended experts. But it seems like those experts cost a few hundred dollars for the service. I’d just pay the $99 to ConvertKit! I bet you can just shoehorn your way into that.
Again, though, if your list is quite small, ConvertKit might not be the best choice for you right now. Unless you know you’re going to make a killing with their segmentation tools…
After a “broadcast email” is sent, ConvertKit provides reporting details like how many subscribers opened the email, how many didn’t, how many clicked on each of the individual links in the email. A really nice feature is the ability to resend the email to anyone who didn’t open it.
When you look at each individual subscriber’s details in your subscriber list, though, there’s a list of every email that was delivered successfully to that subscriber, which they opened, and whether or not they clicked on a link. So if a subscriber tells you that they didn’t receive a particular email that you had promised, you can check to be sure. If they received it, you can tell them when they received it, and if they opened it, suggest that they check their trash folder to see if they already discarded it.
Opt-In Forms and Landing Pages
You can use ConvertKit to create landing pages, which can house any sort of information you’d like to provide to leads that you are able to generate from outside your blog. You can create as many opt-in forms in ConvertKit as you’d like, and they can integrate with as many different lead magnets as you’d like. This is a feature that I haven’t seen in other email marketing programs like MailChimp, MadMimi and MailerLite. Using individual lead magnets for signing up for your email list can be very useful.
For example, one of the most popular posts on my food blog is for a Yeast Free Gluten Free Pizza Crust. To try to capture the email addresses of visitors to that page, I included a unique opt-in form in ConvertKit that I have embedded in that page. It leads to another yeast-free recipe that is only available if you sign up for my email list. The lead magnet (the other yeast-free recipe) is uploaded directly to ConvertKit, which provides the downloadable document to readers who sign up for my list using that form. There’s no need for LeadPages, which is a separate, expensive service.
Their lowest tier plan costs $29/month for up to 1,000 subscribers. For all of their pricing plans, you can send out unlimited emails. With all of the other email service providers I’ve used in the past, there was a limit to how many emails you could send in a given month. If you went over, you had to go up a “tier” and that meant more money. As a point of comparison, MailChimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and up to 12,000 emails in a month.
Keep in mind that MailChimp, like most Email Service Providers, counts individual subscribers who are on multiple email lists of yours multiple times. So if you have my email on two lists, in MailChimp you’re going to pay for me twice. In ConvertKit, you get charged once per email address.
There’s no way to look at ConvertKit’s pricing as anything other than expensive, though. It’s just the way it is. If you want certain of its features, though, and they’re going to make money for you like they do for me, then it’s worthwhile.
Once again, if you choose to purchase a subscription to ConvertKit after reading this review, if you’d like to use our affiliate link, we’ll make a bit of money on the purchase but your cost does not increase by one penny. Thank you for supporting us as we attempt to save you money as you build your online business!